Admittedly, I am as bad at finding babysitters as I am in trusting them. For the longest time I elected to have my marriage founder and my free time evaporate rather than go through the difficulty of finding a trust-worthy babysitter (not to mention the fact that I am/was being eternally cheap about paying for childcare). This lack of inherent trust may be rooted in memories of having a collection of awful, negligent babysitters when I was a child, or maybe it stems from being a bored, and semi-negligent, teenage baby sitter myself. I don’t know. But I did know that I had little interest in perpetuating the bad babysitting cycle with my own child – until I really had to.
Babysitting is probably the world’s oldest profession. Sure, most people say the world’s oldest profession is undeniably prostitution, but I would venture to guess that someone had to be watching the kids in order to facilitate that sort of extra-curricular activity. What used to be a word of mouth operation, with neighbors forcing their unemployable children upon fellow parents with even younger children, has now turned into a syndicate with websites and social networks stepping up to capitalize on the need for babysitters. Sites like Sittercity.com and Care.com (not to be confused with Care2) are making it uber-efficient and horrendously easy to find someone to hold the house together while you gobble down dinner and sit through a movie you won’t likely remember. These babysitter dating sites allow you to search personal ads that sitters create, with the majority of these sites showing the sitter’s photos, bios, rates and childcare philosophy for free. However, if you want to actually employ a babysitter you are required to pay to have the opportunity to communicate with them.
This is an amazing solution if you, like me, have had enormous difficulty finding a babysitter that is appealing, likes your children, and is trustworthy. I have found that friends, who have found their treasured babysitter, are not always willing to lend this valued commodity out when asked. The fear of losing your babysitter is about as palpable as losing a boyfriend or girlfriend – people guard with extreme prejudice.
If you are lucky enough to have one of those loyal relatives near by, willing to come at a moments notice, then this is not a problem for you. However, if you are like the rest of us, you suffer and you pay (average rates are $10 to $15 per hour, depending on number of children). How do you navigate the babysitting dilemma? Do you blindly trust whoever comes your way? Do you have a screening process? Have you ever used a service or a babysitting website?